200 releases from Munich-based electronic music label Compost Records? Already? Damn, they really don’t look a day over 175…
But seriously, folks, this is some good stuff. Those who might never before have encountered Compost—or who may have unfairly dismissed their output as yet more cosmopolitan chill-out crap from the continent—could probably get a great deal of enjoyment from Compost 200. As label comps go it may not be quite as consistently fantastic as recent offerings from the likes of Kompakt or Bpitch control, but it is consistently enjoyable, with quite a few highlights throughout.
The disc begins with the Sirius Mo remix of Ben Mono feat. Bajka’s “Protection”, a funky mid-tempo pop number with retro-70s synthesizers and the kind of sleazy brio that Jamiroquai only wishes he could summon. Lateef the Truth Sayer appears on the Beanfield remix of General Electrics’ “Facing That Void”. Lateef may not be the world’s greatest or most accomplished MC, but he’s got a good voice for these type of party tracks—as anyone who remembers his work on Fatboy Slim’s criminally underrated Palookaville can attest. Beanfield produce a slowly simmering house rhythm that touches on elements of both modern Latin house as well as old-school rave—anyone who was around for “Maggie’s Last Party” will get a particular kick out of the breakdown here. Compost mainstays Beanfield appear again with one of their own productions—the Maurice Fulton remix of “Close to You” feat. Ernesto. It’s a surprisingly low-key contribution—a ballad—with a stripped-down drumbeat accentuated by acoustic guitar, Ernesto’s plaintive voice and insistent handclaps set one step back in the mix.
Laurent Garnier drops by to remix Allex Attias presents Mustang featuring Bémbé Ségué’s “10,000 leagues Deeper” (wow, that’s a long title). The result is one of the disc’s highlights, a slow-building but unmistakably catchy techno groove that hearkens back to the days of “Rhythm is Rhythm”—about as pleasurable an evocation as can be imagined. Bémbé Ségué’s vocals add another element to the mix, slightly redolent of Zap Mama’s less farfetched styling. “Sweat”, by Muallem feat. Audrey, is funky and filthy enough that it could have appeared as an Ellen Allien b-side, with Audrey’s sultry French vocals laid atop a hammering, slutty old-school electro beat and a simply trash-tastic slap bass sample. It builds to a positively sexual climax before dissipating in a post-coital glow.
Product.01 present the Justus Köhncke remix of “Heart Ov Glass”, a cover of Blondie’s song of a similar name. It’s a fun bit of retro work, with a fairly reverential vocal treatment set alongside a delicious 808 bedrock. Old favorites the (Ranier) Truby Trio appear with the Whignomy Bros. remix of “New Music”, an odd, slightly abstract broken-beat reworking that brings to mind Matthew Herbert with a pinch of prog expansiveness added for good measure. Ben Mono feat Capitol A offer “Transmission”, one of the album’s less compelling tracks—a space-age, mid-tempo Funkadelic work-out with Capitol A’s tepid raps laid over the top. But the disc picks up again with the Domu mix of Eddy Meets Yannah’s “Shamed”, built atop an irresistibly good breakbeat and layered with piles of creamy synthesizer burble. It’s good stuff.
The Raw Deal mix of Intuit featuring Cécile Verny’s “Peace of Mind” steps back in the same direction as Ben Mono and Bajka’s “Protection”, with Verny’s enthusiastic house vocal performance combined with a retro-70s, shuffling Latin vibe. Not exactly my thing—I’ve heard enough of these types of 70s throwbacks to last me a while—but competently done. “I Feel Blue” by Alif Tree offers a tasty sampling of their forthcoming album, with a sultry, smoky example of the kind of acid jazz you probably didn’t think they made anymore: moody, melancholy, and with just a touch of something slightly more futuristic as well. Wei Chei’s “Faces and Places”, remixed by Henrik Schwarz, is a stripped-down minimal techno number (think Plastikman) strapped to a weird recurring piano riff and downright bizarre chopped and distorted vocal samples. It’s one of the disc’s more interesting experiments, stretching out to a comfortable and confident eight minutes.
“Cold Reformer” by Jean-Paul Bondy feat. Carl A. Finlow is something of an odd duck, bringing to mind electronic songwriters such as Sondre Lerche and even latter-day Depeche Mode. It’s a few steps removed from straight electro, only a bit too mordant to fully qualify. Not necessarily something of which I’d seek a full album. But the album recovers on the dismount with Felix Laband’s “Whistling In Tongues”, a brilliantly constructed piece of downtempo melodicism, with simple, ringing guitar tones set against slightly sinister drumbreaks. It’s a phenomenal track, carrying hints of DJ Shadow in it’s melancholy grandeur.
Compost may not be the biggest or flashiest of labels, but they exercise the kind of consistent quality control that larger, slower and weaker labels can only envy. Compost 200 is the kind of label anthology that young CD-Rs wish they could grow up to be: eclectic but not distractingly so, representative of the label’s output but not slavish, and stacked with memorable hits. The few duds appear as relatively minor qualms in the face of such ample quality.